Filmmakers are looking for stories that break away from traditional gay story lines like coming out or living with HIV. One of the most anticipated programs this year is "Bob & Rose," from "Queer as Folk" creator Russell T. Davies. The six-episode British TV anthology is a more lighthearted romantic drama about a gay man who falls for a straight woman.
"This actually happened to me. A friend of mine starting going out with a woman, and I thought he was having a nervous breakdown," says Davies. "And then I sat down with them and talked about it and realized I had been laughing at a genuine love story. So I thought the prejudice that I and every other gay man in Manchester showed was fascinating."
Director Laura Nix, who has two Outfest entries, the Fassbinder-inspired lesbian melodrama "The Politics of Fur" and "Whether You Like It or Not," a documentary about the making of "Hedwig," also wanted to bust the cliches of gay and lesbian filmmaking. "I think that a lot of times lesbian and gay films can fall into a polemic of a need to show a really positive lifestyle," She says. "And with 'The Politics of Fur,' I really wanted to show a darker side of lesbian relationships. We should have access to the range that every other audience has."
While director Sherman Alexie ("Smoke Signals") is straight, his new film "The Business of Fancy Dancing," which tells the story of a gay Native American poet who returns to his reservation for the funeral of a childhood friend, touches on a side of gay life we haven't seen before.
"The gay world and the Indian society certainly hasn't been talking about it at all," says Alexie. "We started talking about the ways in which all of our ethnic, cultural, and sexual identities put us into tribes. And how many tribes can you belong to at one time? We've played gay festivals, straight festivals and Indian reservations. It's been interesting to see the different tribes coming to the movie and sitting in different sections."
Outfest still has more to conquer as the festival looks ahead, Gutwillig says. "The AFI came out with its list of 100 great love stories, and there wasn't a single gay film on the list," he says. "Where was 'My Beautiful Laundrette'? 'Desert Hearts'? 'Beautiful Thing'? We are certainly a generation removed from the de facto media blackout that existed when Outfest was founded, but there's still a hesitation to embrace the moral equivalence of our romance and our desire. We still have a long way to go for all of us to be seen."